When René Bollier stepped up to take over operations at Kansas City’s oldest and most beloved chocolate shop, Andre’s Chocolates Confiserie Suisse, he knew that he wanted to play a more active role in the local food community.
A 39-year old father of three, Bollier wanted his time at the wheel of the third-generation family company to involve more calculated risk-taking, innovation and collaboration with other food-centered businesses.
That promise inspired his decision to make a dark-chocolate-covered cordial made with local J. Rieger & Co. Kansas City Whiskey, instead of the more traditional German liqueur called kirsch or kirschwasser.
“We’ve always made the traditional European cordials with kirsch in our shop,” said Bollier, “but they never sold very well, and they are very time-consuming to make, taking up to three days, and thus are expensive to buy, as well.”
Inspiration struck when Bollier began drawing up ideas for a Feb. 12 event at the WW1 Museum, Operation Indulgence: Whiskey & Chocolate. As he contemplated bringing the two wartime luxuries together into one indulgent bite, the idea for Kansas City Whiskey Cordials was born.
When he contacted J. Rieger & Co. co-owner Ryan Maybee, the response was quick – and enthusiastic. Maybee and his partner Andy Rieger even provided Bollier with an image of the J. Rieger & Co. logo, so that Bollier could make an edible transfer to mark the top of each cordial.
The cordials were an instant hit at the event, with people stopping by repeatedly to sample them during the night.
And that might have been that.
“It didn’t occur to me to make them to sell in our chocolate shop,” Bollier says. “I just looked at it as a grand experiment, that worked.”
But the people who had tasted the cordials at the event told their friends, who told their friends. The shop started getting phone calls and requests for boxes of the whiskey-filled cordials. “If I could have predicted the word of mouth for those cordials, I could have sold boxes and boxes of them for Valentine’s Day,” Bollier says.
Lesson learned. Bollier and his team are now in production to make the whiskey cordials to sell year-round.
They start the 3-day production process by shooting one ounce of the whiskey mixed with a little simple syrup into corn starch molds. They dust the tops with more corn starch before letting them rest and harden overnight.
The next day, the delicate cordials have formed a sugar shell holding the whiskey inside. At this point, the candies are very delicate, so to get all the excess corn starch off of them they use a light hand and make-up brushes. The cordials are then left to cure and dry for one more night.
On the third day they are sent through the machine that pours liquid dark chocolate over the hard candy shell. They’re left to rest and harden before edible J. Rieger & Co. transfers are placed on top of each cordial. They’re then wrapped in gold foil and placed inside the candy counter to sell for $1.50 each.
“I knew the cordials would be good, but I didn’t know they would be THIS good,” he says. “It is the hint of sweetness from the Spanish sherry that they put in their whiskey that makes it taste so delicious when it is covered in dark chocolate.”
The executive chef/owner offers a piece of advice for anyone who wants to come in and try one.
“Make sure to eat the chocolate in one bite, because a quarter-ounce of whiskey will come pouring out all over you if you don’t,” he says.
Andre’s Chocolates Confiserie Suisse
5018 Main Street
Kansas City, MO